“The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics approved a grant request for $275,000, which is the last commitment needed to match a $200,000 grant received Sept. 25, 2012, from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation,” said Dennis Heap, executive director for Front Range Airport.
Aeronautics funding comes on the heels of commitments from Denver International Airport (DIA) for $50,000, the city of Aurora for $25,000, I-70 Regional Economic Advancement Partnership for $5,000, the Town of Bennett for $5,000 and Adams County for $300,000. “The commitments are more than just money,” said Heap. “They are an expression of partnership for the concept of Spaceport Colorado.”
Studies show that tomorrow’s leaders in commercial space transportation will be facilities that are part of a world-wide network of suborbital flight transportation. Front Range Airport’s unique position as a spaceport location is due to its rural location and excess capacity, while being convenient to DIA and easily accessible by the greater Denver metro area. Key to the success of Spaceport Colorado is DIA, the 10th busiest airport in the world, which will be the feed and distribution system for future cargo and passenger space flight.
“The city of Aurora has supported Front Range Airport since its inception,” said Mayor Steve Hogan. “We have partnered with the airport to construct the existing water system and transferred approval to the airport for its waste water system. We maintain the primary roads to and from the airport and funded completion of 56th Avenue between DIA and Front Range Airport in collaboration with Adams County and TransPort developers.”
“Funding assistance from the local economic development organization, I-70 REAP, and the Town of Bennett is very meaningful,” said Heap. “The organization has been a long-time supporter and views the airport as the economic engine for the I-70 Corridor.”
Adams County Commissioner Alice J. Nichol, chairman of the Front Range Airport Authority, is pleased with the support for Spaceport Colorado. “Adams County has invested over $21 million in infrastructure and assistance for Front Range, making it the 3rd largest contributor after the FAA and the private sector,” said Nichol. “I believe Spaceport Colorado will become a major economic generator for Adams County and the state of Colorado.
Next steps are the issuance of an RFP for spaceport consultants and final selection before the end of the year. The spaceport consultants and Front Range Airport will then begin the six-month process of conducting technical, financial and feasibility studies; developing a detailed business plan; identifying the market and facilities analysis for Spaceport Colorado; as well as conducting an environmental assessment and risk analysis for the spaceport and flight corridors. This data will be used to prepare the spaceport license application. The goal is to receive a license for a horizontal launch and recovery for spaceport before the end of 2013.
“Front Range is the last general aviation (GA) airport constructed in Colorado and is one of the largest land mass GA airports in the United States with just under 4,000 acres of land, surrounded by a 6,000-acre, non-residential, master planned industrial complex,” said Heap. “Tens of thousands of acres of dry land farming extend in all directions from the airport.”
Front Range Airport constructed the tallest general aviation air traffic control tower in the United States, and has 20 acres of shovel-ready sites with sufficient utilities to support a 10-15 year build out for aerospace facilities.